Proverbs 30:7-9, Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
This passage in proverbs proclaims the benefits of the middle class.
These proverbs are God's proclamation that both ends of the economic spectrum can be dangerous ends because they are ends where temptations are more prevalent.
The Lord's prayer included a plea to not be lead into temptation.
He knew that there were certain situations where temptation was greater than in other situations.
He instructed the disciples to pray to stay out of those situations where temptation is great.
We learn today in our passage that two of those situations where temptation is greater is in being rich or being in poverty.
And yet many people pray to be rich, don't they?
People desire to be rich but when they desire to be rich they put confidence in the flesh to overcome the temptations that riches bring.
They may not realize the vanity and lies that the rich are tempted with.
God, in Proverbs 23:4 admonishes, Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
I know that people pray to be rich but until reading this proverb I have never heard of anyone praying to be of the middle class.
But by this proverb it appears to me that the middle ground is to be sought by the godly and sought for very good reasons.
Agur thought so and he gives good reasons for seeking middle economic ground.
And by placing this prayer in the book of Proverbs it appears to me that God also thinks that the middle economic ground is the safest place for his children to be.
Perhaps this is why there has always been a tendency for middle classes to suffer and efforts made to put the middle class out of existence.
Satan knows that God desires the middle ground for his children.
Therefore Satan battles against the middle ground because he knows the temptations of being rich and of being poor and he desires people to be either rich or poor and therefore curse God
Jesus Christ said in Matthew 19:23,24, Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Makes sense that Satan wants two classes of people doesn't he?
He wants people to fit into the classes where temptations are greatest.
A man of the previous century named William Graham Sumner wrote:
It is the tendency of all social burdens to crush out the middle class, and to force the society into an organization of only two classes, one at each social extreme.
We see this tendency in our own country don't we?
The middle class to the rescue for all problems but at the ultimate expense of crushing the middle class out of existence.
Now Agur, being wise, recognized the danger in being poor and the danger in being rich.
He wants neither poverty nor riches and diligently prays for middle ground.
He is afraid of his reaction to being poor or being rich and he believes that the middle ground is safer ground on which to be.
He believes that the middle ground will bring him far away from the temptations that come with riches and with poverty.
He does not want to test his flesh against the temptations that may come from being rich or being poor.
He does not desire the middle ground just for his own wellbeing but he desires this for himself for spiritual reasons.
He desires this for himself so that his relationship with God is a right relationship.
This proverb is written as though from a dying man.
Who would deny a dying man his last request so Agur uses this phrase, 'deny me them not before I die' to indicate how intense he is in requesting these two things.
Oh, how he wants these two things before he dies and he wants God to know the intensity of his heart in wanting these two things.
He is bold in going before the throne of God and he uses the phrase "Two things have I required of thee;"
That is bold to say to God, I require these of thee.
But don't you think he is correct in using that kind of language before God?
Doesn't God want his children to come boldly to the throne of grace and ask according to his will?
Doesn't God want his children to have vanity and lies removed far from them?
Agur sees the vanity that may come with riches.
Riches promising happiness but delivering misery.
Riches promising pleasure but giving nothing but death and disappointment.
Riches in great abundance but simply causing greater ungratefulness.
And ultimately riches causing his view of God to dim.
Ultimately bringing him to say: I am full, Who is the LORD?
The rich man may not say that with his lips but with his works it is proclaimed loudly and clearly.
Job knew this when he said in Job 21:13-15, They (the rich) spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?
Isn't that in itself enough for the godly to cry to God: Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:
Agur was afraid of the temptations of riches and poverty.
He was realistic in seeing the real vanity and lies that come with those economic positions.
He could see the lies that may come with poverty.
He could see the seeming necessity to deceive and steal in order to live.
He cried to God, don't put me in these situations, God.
I know my flesh and I know that the middle ground is the place where I receive from your hand food that is convenient for me, no more no less.
I want to be in the place that I know whatever comes my way comes from thy hand.
It is measured by the hand of God according to my particular situation.
Lead me not into temptations by being poor and being in a place where I may take the name of my God in vain.
Agur knew that he was the Lord's.
Agur knew that he took the name of the Lord as one married to the Lord.
As a wife honors her husband's name by being a faithful wife so too does a child of God honor God's name by being faithful.
Agur feared that in poverty temptations would be too great for him to honor the Lord's name and that his life for the Lord would be in vain.
Therefore he feared that in poverty he would take the name of the Lord in vain.
Agur knew the dangers inherent in being poor and in being rich.
He prayed for middle ground and in so doing revealed to us the blessing that we enjoy if we are allowed to live by the hand of God.
Neither poor nor rich but with our daily bread convenient for the particular situation in which we find ourselves.